Making the Most of Instagram Stories with the design twins (Updated June 2020)
Learn how to use Instagram stories to boost your engagement, enhance your growth and authentically connect to your followers.
People are always asking, “What’s new on Instagram?” “What’s the future of Instagram?” or “What should I be doing to grow on Instagram?” We can answer all those questions with one word: Stories.
That’s right. Instagram Stories are not only big today, but their power and importance continues to increase. There are more people watching stories than browsing feeds. What does this mean for you? And how can you best use this feature to grow your feed and influence? We’ve got all the ins and outs in this post. We’ll explain why, what and how to share, as well as the technical details to get you rocking your Instagram stories.
- What are Instagram Stories?
- Why are Instagram Stories So Important?
- What Should You Share?
- What if I’m Camera Shy?
- Important Tips for Better Instagram Stories
- The Technical Side of Instagram Stories
- Instagram Stories Capabilities
- Instagram Stories Add-ons
- Using Instagram Stories Strategically
- How Often Should I Create Instagram Stories?
- Final Argument
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories is Instagram’s disappearing content feature, which allows users to share photos and videos in a slideshow format that last 24 hours. Separate from users’ carefully curated galleries, it is as a place for more raw, real-time sharing. Stories offer filters, text, drawing, interactive stickers, tags, music, and other features for added creativity. New features are being adding every day.
Why are Instagram Stories So Important?
- Video is the future. Plain and simple.
- People want to be entertained. Video captures people’s attention and holds it.
- Instagram wants to see an engaged audience. Stories build relationships and therefore commitment and engagement.
- The algorithm factors in story views, which increases your overall value on Instagram.
- Stories add another dimension to your feed, another dimension to you.
- Stories add a direct link feature (swipe up) for accounts with over 10K followers.
- The direct link makes stories even more valuable to brands and anyone with a website.
Stories are the perfect place to add more value and give people more reasons to follow you. This is your chance to give your followers more than pictures & words. This is your bonus forum to inspire, teach and showcase what you do and who you are. Unlike a carefully curated gallery stories allow more freedom to show a more personal side while still mixing in value-added content.
- Show your personality
- Life in progress, as long as there is something interesting/worthwhile
- How-to videos & tutorials
- Showcase other talents
- Make people laugh
- Show real life or behind the scenes
- Sponsor brands in a personal, meaningful way
- Share the love and feature others
- Give shout outs to followers or your hashtag users
- Answer questions from your feed
- Invite people to ask questions, create dialog
- Ask followers what they want to see more of
- Advertise your company, brand, blog, products
- Sell products you love
- Make announcements
- Offer special promotions/coupons to reward loyal viewers
- Provide a “call to action”
What if I’m Camera Shy?
You Will Get Used to It
There are plenty of people who don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. Guess what? In the beginning Jodie and I were quite nervous too. But you get used to it. Now it feels like we are talking to our friends, which we are.
Practice Makes Better
I would say practice makes perfect, but you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, the more real you are the better your stories will be. If people wanted professional, they’d turn on the TV. Even on TV the reality shows are taking over. Why? People want real and relatable. So, stop worrying, and have fun.
While it’s great to get ideas from watching others, don’t try to make your stories like any else’s. Just be yourself.
If you are nervous begin by taking baby steps. Begin by facing the camera away from you and just narrate your stories. Once you’re comfortable with that be brave and turn the camera around. Jodie and I like to mix it up. Half the time we share decor, projects or our view and the other half we talk to the camera.
Don’t overthink it
Let it all unfold organically. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. This way you’ll enjoy it more. When you’re enjoying something, your natural energy will draw people to you. And if you’re enjoying yourself it’s much more likely your followers will be enjoying watching as well.
Important Tips for Better Instagram Stories
Tell a Story
If you want people to stay interested and engaged treat your stories like a mini movie. Because your stories will present like a slide show or movie, one after another, try to make it flow together and really tell a story.
Get Follower Feedback
This is the perfect place to start a conversation. You are doing double duty here. Feedback from followers is invaluable and at the same time you are building a bridge as you engage your audience. Nothing builds relationships more than conversation. Relationships create the strongest, most loyal followers.
People want to be entertained. Be witting, fun, silly, creative. Show your personality. Let them fall in love with the real you.
Besides entertainment share something of value. Teach your followers something. Give them tips, inspiration, how-to, advice, or a meaningful take-away.
Provide a Call to Action
You’ve worked hard to create engaging content. Now that you’ve got your followers’ attention what do you want to do with it? Give them a call to action. Send them to your business page, your blog, your shop, whatever it is you want to create.
The Technical Side of Instagram Stories
Maybe what’s holding you back from fully embracing Instagram Stories is the technical aspects. Once again, be brave. Remember when Instagram itself was a mystery? And look at you now. You can do this too. The cool part is you can learn the many features of your stories bit by bit. You can stay basic at first and when you feel ready slowly add “skills” to your stories’ repertoire. Here’s a great resource to learn about all the capabilities of Instagram stories.
Instagram Stories Capabilities
Our advice is to understand the capabilities so you can know what is possible, and then you can decide what is important to you. Here is an overview summary. Note that new features are being added all the time. Don’t ignore them. Use them.
- Live story feature. Create a live video. Let it end or press save to have it viewable for full 24 hours
- Still photos which show like slides for five seconds or videos. Access any photo or video taken in last 24 hours. Want to show an older shot? I just screenshot which is then time stamped and recognized as recent. There are apps to help as well, Slack & WhatsApp both do this.
- Show older videos or tie together 15-second bits of video by using an app called Cut Story
- Hands-free 15-second video option
- Boomerang video option
Instagram Stories Add-ons
- Add music to your videos
- Add Text, adjust color, alignment, size. Create text boxes, use multiple colors, etc.
- Add stickers like temperature, day, time stamp, selfie
- Tag people
- Link a website (if you are a verified account or have a business account of over 10K followers) which creates a swipe up feature. You can link your blog, a company website during a collaboration or affiliate links for sales.
- Draw feature, three styles of pen, with adjustable width of pen, and color choice
- Face filter options
- GIFs to add animation. These are not just for teenagers. They add a little delight. Studies show a huge increase in viewership when GIFs are added.
- Location. Just like posts people search stories by location tags
- Add hashtags, ten or less to help your stories be found. There is only one clickable hashtag link, but you can manually type in up to 10 using text option.
- Use quiz sticker, poll sticker, emoji slide, and question stickers to create interaction and increase engagement.
- Be ready for new additions all the time. Remember, if Instagram offers it, they want you to use it.
Using Instagram Stories Strategically
Jodie and I love Instagram stories, for all the reasons listed above and more.
Here are some of the ways we currently use stories:
- to interact with our followers
- to make people smile, laugh, hopefully brighten their day
- share products we love
- advertise for companies who sponsor us
- tell people about new blog posts
- share a project or DIY we are working on
- hashtag feature sharing
- giveaway or other promotional reminders
- share home decor restyling
- show behind the scenes
- occasionally share other talents, like our violin playing
- and more.
One of the reasons we love stories is they allow us the ability to accomplish things we can’t on our galleries. We protect our feeds and try to keep them as aesthetically pleasing as we can. Stories provide a place where we can do all the things we don’t want to do on our galleries, and so much more.
How Often Should I Create Instagram Stories?
- Want people to be committed to you? Show them you are committed to them.
- Be consistent. Do you want your followers to look forward to connecting with you daily? Do you want them to make you part of their day? Of course you do.
- Then that’s your answer. Create Instagram stories every day.
- Show your commitment to your followers, your commitment to IG.
- Help your followers create a deep connection to you and your brand.
- A habit is something you do every day.
- Help your followers make you their habit.
Not yet using stories? Think it’s just not for you?
Let us change your minds.
If you are on IG for fun and kicks then you can use stories for added fun. But, if you are an influencer or hoping to become one, or you’re on Instagram for business of any kind and you’re not yet using Instagram stories, it is like leaving money on the table.
It’s like being half in the game. And all signs point to this becoming only more true in the future. It’s another example of success going to those who are willing to evolve with the times.
Whether you are new to stories or just getting ready to take the plunge we hope this post will help you optimize the power of Instagram Stories and take your engagement and your account to the next level.
- Ready to take your Instagram to the next level? We offer Personalized Instagram Audits that give you a complete analysis of your Instagram account, a detailed road map for success, and 90 minutes of video coaching.
- Be sure to read our many other Instagram related blog posts and sign up to receive our VIP email so you never miss a post. Click on the pink box below and receive free bonus materials.
For more tips on how to create amazing Instagram stories, read Later Media’s article, “How to Design Instagram Stories That Captivate Your Audience.”